Rouault was particularly drawn to the clowns and their expressive potential as subjects for portraiture. These nomadic entertainers represented freedom and naiveté, and were for Rouault a release from his focus on the darker images of life. His series of clown portraits is marked by an emotional immediacy that is unique both within his oeuvre and the spectrum of modern art. Lionello Venturi writes, "When he paints clowns, however, the grotesque becomes amiable, even lovable... colors grow rich and resplendent, almost as if the artist, laying aside his crusader's arms for a moment, were relaxing in the light of the sun and letting it flood into his work" (Lionello Venturi, Rouault, Lausanne, 1959, pp. 21 & 51).
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